Gender Identity 2
Factors that Determine Gender Identity
The factors that determine gender identity include environmental and biological
influences. Through societal influences, we are taught to behave in “male” or “female” ways,
depending on our anatomical sex.
Biology helps create our sense of gender identity, because it is
with our genitalia that most people first learn to assume an identity, as either male or female.
However, environment shapes our thinking and has forced us to think in terms of masculinity or
femininity to help define our gender identity. Therefore, gender identity is determined by both
biology and environment, and our overall self-conceptualization, including gender and in the
other ways that we see ourselves as individuals.
The Continuum of masculinity-femininity
Primarily, to examine the masculinity-femininity continuum, we have to highlight the
importance of gender in our society and those who have a “different” gender, and may not fit
directly in with what is considered exact maleness or femaleness.
In our society, we see gender
as a pivotal part of who we are, so naturally as soon as we are born; our parents want to know
our gender. However, there are times when gender is not so easily definable. Some people,
known as hermaphrodites, are born with both male and female genitalia. A work by Zucker also
describes intersexuals, people “who may possess the gonads of one sex but external genitalia that
are ambiguous or typical of the other sex” (Zucker, 1999, as cited by Rathus, Nevid, and
Fichner-Rathus, 2005, p. 175). These individuals do not fit directly into society’s concept of